It has been said that if you want action films, look no further than Asian and American cinema; and no one makes a mystery or a satire like the British.The same can be said about the French when it comes to love stories, and while our Seine-strutting amis can also whip up slapstick comedies like few can (think Louis De Funes donning a beard, black hat, and impersonating a rabbi), they rarely fail to deliver captivating examples of both of these beloved genres.
Patrice Leconte, best known to American audiences for Monsieur Hire (1989) and The Hairdresser’s Husband (1990), gives us The Perfume of Yvonne (1994), now available on DVD from Severin Films.Based on the 1975 novel Villa Triste by Patrick Modiano, the film introduces us to Victor Chmara (Hippolyte Girardot of Manon of the Spring among many others), who is recalling the events that transpired in his life during the summer of 1958 in Geneva.Casually avoiding taking up the cause in the Algerian War, he stops in his tracks while sitting in the lobby of his hotel when his eye catches Yvonne (former model Sandra Majani) for the first time.She is an actress and a vision to behold.Her under-confident manner is exuded by her slight lack of poise while sitting with her enormous dog, Oswald.She is also accompanied by her friend Dr. Rene Meinthe, played with exuberance and flamboyance by Jean-Pierre Marielle whom audiences will recall as Gianni Arrosio in Dario Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet.After much conversation Yvonne and Victor enter into a relationship that quickly becomes sexual in nature.Leconte’s camera makes the ever so slight caress of Yvonne’s knee (a nice nod to Eric Rohmer), her back, her breast, or bare bottom intensely erotic.Underneath it all, Yvonne possesses an air of innocent hesitation, which I cannot discern to be attributed to Majani’s lack of experience as an actress, or if it is her interpretation of Yvonne.Majani she also appeared in Alberto Express (1990), Cold Moon (1991), and Leconte’s Tango (1993) under the name of Sandra Extercatte, so Yvonne is not her first film.
As time goes by, Victor somehow appears to feel that he is a stranger in Yvonne’s land, and suddenly suggests that they get married and move to America.This is a move that puzzles Yvonne, and Rene reminds Victor to keep an eye on her.The ending is intimated at from the very beginning, and when we are faced with it, we nod our heads in understanding.
Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman appeared at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for the launch of Warner Brothers 35 DVD tribute collection to Eastwood. They were also there to commemorate Richard Schickel's new documentary The Eastwood Factor which is featured in the set and which Freeman narrates. Eastwood was philosophical about Invictus not getting a best picture or director Oscar nod, saying, "Look, I've been around a long time and probably they should give
somebody else a look. I don't think too much about that stuff. I didn't
think about it then, I just got lucky with those two. (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby)". Eastwood also confirms he's out of touch with his earlier films and has to reacquaint himself with them. For more click here
It's rare to see the word "terrible" linked to the work of Martin Scorsese, but New York Times film critic A.O. Scott does just that in his pan of the master director's new thriller Shutter Island. Scott claims the film is a jumbled mess of red herrings, pretentious special effects and plot distractions that wear viewers down and ultimately bores them. Click here to read
Kathryn Grayson, who played prominent roles in classic MGM musicals such as Anchors Away and Showboat, has passed away from natural causes at age 88. Grayson was also a Broadway star and replaced Julie Andrews in the original 1960 run of Camelot. For more click here